We’re bringing you one of our classic switcheroo series with today’s articles, as we’re going to be talking about 10 Movies that We Really Wanted to Like (But Ended Up Hating), while also speaking on 10 Movies We Really Wanted to Hate (But Ended Up Loving). It’s a curious thing, but in a world where we’re constantly inundated with trailers, spoilers, gossip and insanely gratifying tidbits of information about to-be-released films, expectations play a large role in how we internalize a movie. Toss in Rotten Tomatoes and a whole assortment of critical opinions, and it’s pretty easy to walk into a movie nowadays with a fully formed opinion (and that’s before you’ve even seen a single frame). With that said, we wanted to take a look back at some of our own expectations, and the movies that both lived up to our expectations (or, in this case, didn’t live up to them).
10. Pacific Rim (2013)
Perhaps hate is a strong word for the way we feel about Pacific Rim, Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 passion project which saw giant, human piloted robots (coined Jaegers) facing off against horrible, massive monsters that emerge from an inter-dimensional rift at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean (these are called Kaiju, in loving reference to the Japanese monster films of old). That said, we can’t help but feel immensely disappointed whenever we boot this film up and attempt to give it another chance. The kind of movie that is wildly impressive in the cinema but feels sorely lacking when watched on your setup at home, Pacific Rim fails to pace its groundbreaking visual effects sequences with any kind of legitimate story or character development. Simply put, any part of the film that doesn’t feature robots throwing down with monsters or Idris Elba delivering a rousing speech about cancelling the apocalypse just feels lame and cliché. The worst offender is undoubtedly Charlie Hunnam, whose acting is about as wooden we’ve seen from a blockbuster star in quite some time (seriously, he makes Mark Wahlberg look like an Oscar winner…oh wait…).
9. The Hunger Games (2012)
We feel remiss putting a film like this on here, because we like what The Hunger Games stands for. We like that it put up-and-coming actress Jennifer Lawrence at the center of a massive, action driven blockbuster, and we like that she offers a strong and independent female protagonist for young women everywhere to look up to on-screen. That said, we found the often-lacking visual effects and the consistent insertion of cinematic clichés very tiring when watching The Hunger Games, and we also couldn’t get over the blatant “cool kids vs. outcasts” vibe that the film tries so very hard to cultivate. While the film’s sequels do a better job of undoing some of the tired narratives that plague the first film, it’s the first film that we’re slotting onto this list and for all the reasons we’ve listed so far.
8. Drive (2011)
We’ve spoken about our disappointment in Drive before. This 2011 film, directed by Nicholas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks and Bryan Cranston, was poorly marketed as a getaway driver flick complete with tense getaway sequences and a brooding lead performance by Gosling, all of which was a far cry from the art house neo-noir drama that fans got when they sat down in cinema to watch this much-acclaimed film (it received a standing ovation at Cannes in 2011). Again, perhaps hate is a strong word here, but this is a movie we really, really wanted to like, but we couldn’t help but be disappointed in most every element of the film, save from the unbelievable and now-legendary score (seriously, the music for this film is next level good, and well worth listening to all by itself). Was it the lack of action that caused us to turn on Drive? Not particularly, as we don’t mind a good bit of brooding with our violence, but the lack of actual driving left us wanting, especially considering the film’s only true driving sequence is completely engrossing.
7. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
It was really, really hard for us to put a Martin Scorsese film on this list, but the fact remains that 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that we really wanted to not only like, but love. Scorsese reuniting with his muse in Leonardo DiCaprio to tell the true story of a charismatic but corrupt investment banker? We’re in! Unfortunately, The Wolf of Wall Street was a monumental disappointment (at least for us, we know some critics and audiences were more than smitten with the film) whose lone bright spot was the emergence of Margot Robbie, who now seems destined for a career as a Hollywood leading lady. A film which suffers heavily from its lengthy running time and (we cannot stress this part enough) a complete and total lack of character development over the course of its entirety, The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that isn’t half as smart as it thinks it is, and while we get that the whole point of Jordan Belfort is that he doesn’t change, and that he doggedly pursues the same outdated understanding of success that most of Wall Street possesses, three hours of drugs, women and money just isn’t enough substance to carry a film.
6. Moulin Rouge (2001)
Sigh. Baz Luhrmann films were made for lists like this, and Moulin Rouge exists as a fine example as to how the technically gifted but vapid director was disappointing audiences long before he was butchering literary classics (we’ll never forgive what he did to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby). Moulin Rouge, which was released in 2001 and starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, is another film we really wanted to like. We’re quite fond of musicals (particularly serious ones), yet whenever we revisit Moulin Rouge and give it a chance to change our opinions, we’re always reminded that for all the apparent soul on-screen, the movie legitimately seems lacking in spirit and sincerity. It’s all sizzle and no steak, all flash with little substance, and we can’t invest in the characters because they’re too busy changing costumes for us to legitimately care about their problems. McGregor and Kidman are likeable enough leads, but there’s something amiss here.
5. The King’s Speech (2010)
We’ll happily admit that when we first saw The King’s Speech, the 2010 drama directed by Tom Hooper and starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush and Guy Pearce, we kind of got why the film was gathering all sorts of awards buzz; after all, it was a topically relevant drama based on true events that featured a strong performance from Firth, all factors that rendered it Oscar Bait (and the film would go on to win numerous awards at that year’s ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay). However, it’s only after re-examining this film that you see just how “Oscar Bait-y” the film is. Everything here seems perfectly drawn up so as to produce a film that might win awards rather than captivate an audience, and the sheer sham of it all left us with a bitter taste in our mouth. Not that The King’s Speech is unique in this approach to filmmaking; this happens all the time, with studios investing serious resources into crafting movies that merit Oscar consideration. Perhaps if it was a little less shameless, we’d have been on board.
4. Prometheus (2012)
Good Lord, here’s a doozie of a disappointment. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the 2012 science fiction horror film that saw Scott returning to his beloved Alien franchise to re-examine the roots of the series via a loosely connected film about a new team of explorers, might rank as one of the films we most wanted to like, yet ultimately ended up truly hating. A classic example of trying to hide shoddy plotting with cheap scares and impressive set pieces, Prometheus only stands to muddy up the previously established mythology of the Alien franchise, and after viewing seems to be nothing more than a shameless cash grab by Scott and company (by very, very loosely connecting this to the Alien franchise, Scott succeeded in convincing a huge portion of science fiction fans this was a movie worth seeing…it wasn’t). While it features a star studded cast of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce, Prometheus ranks as a monumental disappointment and one of the movies that least lives up to the lofty expectations we had for it.
3. Gravity (2013)
Remember when Avatar came out, and everyone said it was kind of a shoddy film that was worth seeing, but only if you went and saw it in the movie theater so as to fully realize the jaw dropping scope and technical prowess displayed in the movie? That’s kind of how we feel about Gravity, the 2013 science fiction drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. A massive box office success and a critical darling, Gravity made over $700 million dollars at the box office and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects; however, we still can’t fully buy in to the film at home, despite our best attempts to like this much-loved film. Maybe it’s because we can’t buy good old Sandy Bullock as a dramatic lead; maybe it’s because as impressive as the visual effects are, they’re completely ungrounded and leave little realism for the audience to grab hold of. Whatever the case, Gravity is a film that never seems to elevate beyond the sum of its parts, and for that it winds up at number three on this list.
2. The Boondock Saints (1999)
We’re sure many a college freshman has shared our experience with The Boondock Saints. The 1999 action and crime film, directed by Troy Duffy, stars Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery as two Irish brothers who go on a vicious crime spree in the name of vigilante justice, wherein we were convinced to watch the film by an enthusiastic group of impressionable youngsters who cite it as the “greatest shoot ’em up ever, man!” Unfortunately for us, cinema audiences and that poor college freshman, The Boondock Saints is as far from a good film as you can get, and despite our best attempts at liking it, this wannabe Tarantino flick just doesn’t deserve the cult classic title it currently holds in contemporary culture. A film that spends far more time glorifying violence than examining it, The Boondock Saints is a movie that we were told we might like, but we ended up truly hating.
1. Forrest Gump (1994)
Now, we understand that it’s psychologically impossible to hate Tom Hanks; the man exudes a likability so overwhelming that he never fails to captivate while on-screen. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t hate his movies, and the one we wanted to like but ended up hating is most definitely Forrest Gump, the 1993 romantic comedy/drama directed by Robert Zemeckis and also starring Robin Wright and Gary Sinise. Forrest Gump, a film which is beloved by filmgoers everywhere, never ceases to incite our ire when speaking about movies. It’s a film so steeped in melodrama, cliché, and unsubtle symbolism that it makes us feel physically ill to watch. What’s worse, it beat out legitimately great films like Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption for the Best Picture award at the 1994 Oscars. For shame, Academy.